Does High Blood Pressure Cause Headaches?
People often wonder whether high blood pressure causes headaches. In fact, “does hypertension cause headaches” is one of the most common Google searches involving high blood pressure. Let’s take a look at the relationship between hypertension and headaches.
Blood Pressure Basics
High blood pressure, or hypertension, occurs when the force of the blood against the walls of your blood vessels is high enough to have a negative effect on your health. The two main factors that affect blood pressure are the amount of blood that your heart is pumping and the amount of resistance that the blood encounters in your arteries.
A blood pressure reading encompasses two different actions that occur when your heart beats. Systolic pressure is the force of the blood pumping out of the heart and through your arteries. Diastolic pressure is the force of the blood when your heart rests between beats. A measurement of less than120/80 (120 systolic and 80 diastolic) is considered normal.
High Blood Pressure Symptoms
High blood pressure is known as the “Silent Killer” because it usually causes no apparent symptoms. It typically reveals itself only when high blood pressure leads to heart attacks, strokes, and other serious conditions. It’s a myth that people with high blood pressure experience such symptoms as facial flushing, nervousness, dizziness, or difficulty sleeping.
The best way to know whether you have hypertension is to have it checked regularly by your physician. You should also be aware of the risk factors for high blood pressure. They include:
• A diet high in sodium
• Lack of physical activity
• Use of alcohol or tobacco
If you have any of these factors, your doctor may recommend that you take your own blood pressure at home regularly. Automated, digital blood pressure monitors make this process easier than using the manual device that some healthcare professionals use (sphygmomanometer).
Headaches and Hypertensive Crisis
Headaches are generally not a symptom of hypertension. However, there is one exception. Along with other symptoms, a severe headache can be a symptom of severe hypertension, also known as hypertensive crisis. This condition occurs when a person’s blood pressure is extremely high, exceeding 180/120.
Hypertensive crisis may have additional symptoms, including
If your blood pressure is extremely high and you have any of these symptoms, rest for 5 minutes and check your blood pressure again. If the reading remains above 180/120, it’s a medical emergency. See a doctor immediately and call 911 for emergency assistance. A hypertensive crisis can lead to a heart attack or a stroke. These symptoms may also indicate other serious health conditions, so seek medical care right away.
Check Your Blood Pressure Regularly
Because hypertension usually has no symptoms, everyone should have their blood pressure measured regularly. The American Heart Association recommends that adults with normal blood pressure should have their blood pressure checked at their annual health visits. If you have high blood pressure — or if you’re concerned about your blood pressure — you can check it more often by measuring your blood pressure at home with a digital monitor that incorporates a cuff. Wrist and finger monitors are also available, but none of the devices currently on the market have received approval from the American Heart Association because they may not measure blood pressure accurately.
Achieving Good Heart Health
Good heart health means eating a heart-healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise, and monitoring your blood pressure regularly. One easy way to keep track of your blood pressure is to use our FREE Heart Club app. This all-in-one, cardiologist-designed app helps you track your daily steps and record your blood pressure, as well as providing you with access to important medical data. Learn more about how Heart Club can help improve your overall heart health.